’THE AZTECS' SPECIAL EDITION DVD (BBCDVD3689) RELEASED IN MARCH 2013;
AND 'GALAXY 4' AUDIO CD (ISBN 0-563-47700-8) RELEASED IN OCTOBER 1999.
The Drahvins and the Rills crash-landed on a deserted planet in Galaxy 4. The planet is about to explode so the women-dominated Drahvins plan to escape using the spaceship of the peace-loving Rills.
As the planet’s destruction nears, the Doctor must use all his powers of diplomacy to prevent a needless loss of life.
THREE OF THE FOUR EPISODES ARE MISSING - ONLY "AIR LOCK" SURVIVES.
11TH SEPTEMBER 1965 - 2ND OCTOBER 1965
1. FOUR HUNDRED DAWNS 2. TRAP OF STEEL
3. AIR LOCK 4. THE EXPLODING PLANET
William Emms’ Galaxy 4 is a strange little story, and one that I fear suffers terribly from its current lack of visual representation. With all four episodes junked by the BBC decades ago, all that exists of this serial today are a few tantalising snippets of its first episode and an off-air recording of its soundtrack, which has since been fleshed out a little through the linking narration of erstwhile companion Peter Purves.
Emms’ script takes great delight in turning our assumptions on their head as its reportedly monstrous Rills are proven to be an enlightened race of thinkers and explorers, while the much more aesthetically pleasing Drahvins are warlike, aggressive and almost offensively matriarchal (something that I found terribly amusing given Doctor Who’s reputation for rampant sexism). It’s hard to fully appreciate this irony when listening to the surviving soundtrack though, given the abnormal dearth of telesnaps. This is made up for to some extent by the script’s extensive dialogue, which seems to leave far fewer pauses than I’ve found to be the norm, making it easier to follow events than is often the case with these BBC Radio Collection releases. The trade-off is that there are more fluffs than usual from the actors – far more – which does not make for a smooth listening experience.
However, whilst we may never get to see a Rill, footage of one of the story’s “Chumbleys” still exists in one of the surviving segments lifted from “Four Hundred Dawns”. The atrocious nickname (doled out by Vicki) is certainly fitting, as the Chumblies appear to be every bit as feeble in appearance as they are in name. I’m still not sure whether this is something I should be praising the serial for.
All told, Galaxy 4 seems to have been smitten by fate. So many of its lost peers can still be enjoyed through a fusion of telesnaps and expounded audio, but through sound alone I’ve really struggled to find this one’s charm.
Since this review was written in 2008, the episode “Air Lock” has been discovered. Read our review of the episode and the reconstruction that surrounds it on The Aztecs (Special Edition) DVD by clicking here.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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